Gospel–Mark 1: 21 – 28
In this Gospel Mark speaks to us of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus had just called Peter, Andrew, James, and John to follow him, and the five of them continue on to Capernaum which was the home of Peter and Andrew, and most likely James and John. These four hometown men arrive with this stranger who had not yet preached, healed, expelled demons or raised the dead. Jesus arrives in town as just another stranger passing through, but he must be alright since he is with these four familiar men. We don’t know how long he was in Capernaum, but he made an impression and was invited to teach in the Synagogue on the Sabbath. Mark does not tell us what Jesus said, but rather tells us the effect it had on the assembly, they “were astonished.” He was seen as being a refreshing contrast to the scribes who spoke nice sermons, while Jesus spoke with authority.
Jesus’ presence and teaching in the synagogue was so powerful that it stirred up an unclean spirit in one of the men there. The outburst of the unclean spirit in which he revealed himself with fear that Jesus came to destroy them, ends with the unclean spirit pointing out to all that Jesus is “the Holy one of God.” Jesus responds by rebuking the unclean spirit and casting him out
A lesson for us is to be open to the presence and authority of Jesus in our lives and in the world. Jesus arrived in Capernaum as somewhat a stranger, yet the people there welcomed him and invited him to teach. Jesus should not be a stranger to us for we entered into a personal relationship with him on the day of our Baptism. Through Baptism we should be able to recognize Jesus entering into our lives in Word and Sacrament, and he comes with authority. The Authority to teach us, guide us, and heal us, which help us to grow in holiness. He is not a stranger, but the presence of God with us: our Savior, brother and Lord. He is someone whose presence we should be able to recognize and stand in awe before him.
We do know that it is Jesus who has authority and power to cast out demons. We should not be surprised when the Lord answers our prayers, whether they be for deliverance, health, a job, or whatever. When we pray we should do so with trust that the Lord hears our prayer, even those that seem so insignificant that we might be tempted not to bother God with them. In the Parable of the dishonest Steward Jesus tells us that, “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.” (Luke 16:10) We can apply this to ourselves with regards to how we approach the Lord in prayer: If we can entrust to the Lord our little needs, we will be able to entrust to him our greater needs. We will learn from experience how the Lord answers our little prayers like finding something that’s lost, finding us a good parking spot, or sending a good Samaritan. Yes, some of these seem rather trivial, but I know of people who claim that they always get a good parking spot when they say a prayer. When we begin to trust the everyday little needs to God we will soon have the faith to trust in him to answer our big prayers. This all begins with our welcoming Jesus into our lives and inviting him to speak to us.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.